What is Promoting Prison Contraband?

A.R.S. § 13-2505 punishes promoting prison contraband. This entails knowingly bringing certain items into a jail or prison that have been labeled as law to be contraband. This includes items such as drugs, weapons, and cell phones. Depending on the type of contraband smuggled into jail, the crime may be charged as a class 5 or a class 2 felony.

A.R.S. § 13-2505 Defined

Under ARS 13-2505, a person commits promoting prison contraband:

  • (1) By knowingly taking contraband into a correctional facility or the grounds of a correctional facility; or
  • (2) By knowingly conveying contraband to any person confined in a correctional facility; or
  • (3) By knowingly making, obtaining or possessing contraband while being confined in a correctional facility or while being lawfully transported or moved incident to correctional facility confinement.

Promoting prison contraband is a class 2 felony when the contraband is any of the following:

  • A deadly weapon
  • A dangerous instrument
  • An explosive
  • A dangerous drug
  • A narcotic drug
  • Marijuana

In all other cases, promoting prison contraband is a class 5 felony. Failing to report a violation of this crime is also a class 5 felony.

Important Definitions

  • “Contraband” means any dangerous drug, narcotic drug, marijuana, intoxicating liquor of any kind, deadly weapon, dangerous instrument, explosive, wireless communication device, multimedia storage device or other article whose use or possession would endanger the safety, security or preservation of order in a correctional facility or a juvenile secure care facility, or of any person within a correctional or juvenile secure care facility.
  • “Correctional Facility” means any place used for the confinement or control of a person (a) Charged with or convicted of an offense; or (b) Held for extradition; or (c) Pursuant to an order of court for law enforcement purposes.

Does a Defendant Need to Know it Was Contraband?

This question arose in the Arizona Supreme Court case of State v. Francis, 410 P.3d 416 (Ariz. 2018). Darrel Francis was arrested and booked in the Navajo County Jail Annex. When he was booked, the officers took his personal property, including his clothes and cellphone. The next day, Francis asked to call his attorney. When the officer, when the officer could not find the attorney’s number, Francis told her he had it in his cellphone, which the officer retrieved to obtain the number. Later, Francis was transferred to the main jail, where an officer confiscated a cellphone held by Francis.

Francis argued in his defense that he did not know that his cellphone was prison contraband. The case went up to the Arizona Supreme Court on this issue, which ruled that ARS 13-2505 does not require the defendant to know that the item in question is contraband. In other words: the court ruled that ignorance of the law is no excuse.

As long as the defendant knew that he had the cellphone, that is enough to convict under ARS 13-2505. It does not matter whether the defendant also knew that the having the cellphone was unlawful.

Does “Promoting Prison Contraband” Apply to House Arrest?

No. ARS 13-2505 specifically excludes “contraband located at the place where a person is on home arrest.” Keep in mind, however, that if the contraband in question is itself illegal — such as illicit drugs — then possession of this while on house arrest will likely be a violation of the terms of the home detention and will also constitute separate criminal charges for drug possession.

Penalties for Promoting Prison Contraband

The penalties for a conviction under ARS 13-2505 depend on whether it is charged as a class 2 felony or a class 5 felony.

Penalties for a class 2 felony

  • With no prior felonies: probation or 3 to 12.5 years in prison
  • With one prior felony: 4.5 to 23 years in prison
  • With two prior felonies: 10.5 to 35 years in prison

Penalties for a class 5 felony

  • With no prior felonies: probation or .5 to 2.5 years in prison
  • With one prior felony: 1 to 3.75 years in prison
  • With two prior felonies: 3 to 7.5 years in prison

In addition to the above punishments, any person who is convicted of promoting prison contraband is prohibited from being employed by any government agency in Arizona until the person’s civil rights have been restored.

How Salwin Law Group Can Help You

If you have been charged with promoting prison contraband, an experienced defense attorney can help defend you. We offer free consultation and can discuss your case with you today. Together we can help you get your life back.

Call Salwin Law Group PLLC today at (480) 702-1789, or contact us online to make your appointment.